Twelve Talks to

Have With Teens

Sources of Strength

Everyone has ups and downs, and leaning on strengths can help people get through tough times. Talking to the youth in your life about their own sources of strength can help them know what to do and where to turn when they need help or support.

Many schools throughout Jefferson County use the "Sources of Strength" model to help youth use a strength-based approach to developing healthy coping strategies, building resilience, increasing connectedness and breaking codes of secrecy and silence when someone is struggling by connecting them to help. The 8 Sources of Strength are:

  • Generosity can look a lot of different ways, from donating money or time to being intentionally kind to other people. These acts of kindness towards others, big or small, can actually make an impact on how we feel about ourselves. Being generous can often give us a sense of purpose and meaning in our lives. 

  • Spirituality is practiced in many ways, but at its core we are looking at what things feed and lift our spirit. Thankfulness is a profound way to practice spirituality together, no matter what our cultural heritage and/or spiritual tradition. Practicing gratitude has profound positive psychological benefits and can be a practice that feeds and lifts our spirits. 

  • When we are injured, we don’t have to stay in pain. We can get better, with access to the medical care we need and deserve. Physical and social/emotional pain are often integrated and it’s important to take care of our bodies, hearts and minds and to get help when we need it.

  • Mental Health is all about getting the support we need and deserve to help us when we are struggling. Our mental health is a very important part of living a healthy life, and oftentimes, getting together with a trusted person, a counselor, or a doctor, can help empower us overcome internal struggles we might be facing. All the sources of

  • Whether related to us by blood, or by choice, family support comes from people who support, nurture and care for us.

  • Positive friends lift us up, make us laugh, are honest with us and are there for us when we need them.

  • A mentor is an experienced person who shares their insight to help guide us, and help us draw on our own strengths to be the best version of ourselves.

  • When we feel stressed, healthy activities-- whether they are physical, social, or emotional-- help us unwind, lift our mood, and gain clarity.

Learn more about how Sources of Strength helps to spread messages of hope, help and strength. (3:10)

How to start a conversation

  • Show your teen the Sources of Strength wheel and ask if they have seen it around their school. Then ask open-ended questions, such as, 

    • What do you think of sources of strength?

    • Where do you get strength when you need it? 


  • Comment positively about your teen's healthy activities, whether that is sports, art, music, animals, or reading etc., including how you can see that the activity relaxes them, helps them unwind, brings them closer to friends or helps them express themselves. 

  • Tell a story about when a family member got through a tough time and what they relied on to get through it.

  • Ask if they have a Sources of Strength program at their school and what kinds of things the program does.

  • Ask who they would tell if they had a friend they were worried about or if they needed help. At a time when both of you are relaxed, ask them to tell you honestly, “What could I do to be more approachable or available if you have a problem?”

Quick tips

  • Starting with an open mind is key to talking about sources of strength. If your teen's strengths-- or even how they define the strengths-- are different from yours, that creates the potential for a great conversation that will help you better understand what makes your teen tick.

  • Your teen might not like these particular strengths and that's totally fine. Ask them what strengths they use to cope with the ups and downs.

  • Remind your teen of times they've dealt with something going on in their lives by getting help. Consider sharing your stories of getting through tough times by relying on your own strengths. 

  • No one should expect to be someone’s only source of strength, especially if they are thinking about suicide. While you can play a vital role as family support or a mentor, it is important to not try to help someone who is suicidal alone. Please see the "Help" section, below.

Things to Do


  • Let teens know that getting help, including help with hopelessness or anxiety, shows strength and courage. If you think the teen is having suicidal thoughts, ask them directly if they are thinking about suicide and if they indicate that they are, please get help immediately The Colorado Crisis Line provides confidential and In-Person Support, info & referrals to anyone in need. Open 24/7. Confidential & Immediate. Speak To A Professional. Services include: Relationship Problems, Family Crises, Depression, Anxiety, Suicidal Thoughts, Stress. 

    • Text "TALK" to 38255

    • Call 1-844-493-8255

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Recommended Resource

Sources of Strength

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* Healthy Kids Colorado Survey 2019, Jefferson County data; **Jefferson County CTC Youth Town Hall data 2019 & 2020.


This project was created by the Jefferson County Communities That Care coalition and is housed within Jefferson County Public HealthThis resource was developed with funding from a Communities That Care grant from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, a grant from Community First Foundation and a Drug-Free Communities grant from the Office of National Drug Control Policy and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The views, policies and opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the grant providers.